Fasting Triglycerides Test for Heart Attack Risk Unreliable

For more than 50 years doctors have used fasting blood triglyceride levels to predict a future heart attack, but now two studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that non-fasting blood triglyceride levels are far more dependable (July 18, 2007). When your blood sugar rises too high after eating, your pancreas releases huge amounts of insulin. Insulin converts sugar to triglycerides. Triglycerides are therefore a marker for a high blood sugar levels that damage arteries to cause heart attacks. More than 75 percent of diabetics die of heart disease.

Many people have normal blood sugar and triglyceride levels after an overnight fast, but have their blood sugar levels rise too high after eating and therefore have a high rise in triglycerides only after eating. This means that having normal triglycerides after fasting does not rule out high risk for a heart attack. High triglycerides after eating shows that you have high blood sugar levels and should restrict foods and beverages made with sugar, flour or other refined carbohydrates, the foods that cause the highest rise in blood sugar.

You can tell if you are at high risk for diabetes if you store fat primarily in your belly. Pinch your belly; if you can pinch an inch, you are at increased risk and should get a blood test called HBA1C. Having high blood levels of triglycerides and low levels of the good HDL cholesterol that helps prevent heart attacks also increases your risk for diabetes. When you eat sugar or flour, your blood sugar rises too high. This causes your pancreas to release insulin that converts sugar to triglycerides, which are poured into your bloodstream. Then the good HDL cholesterol tries to remove triglycerides by carrying them back into the liver, so having high blood levels of triglycerides and low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol are both individual risk factors for diabetes. More on pre-diabetes; more on insulin resistance


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